May 16 2022

The City released the draft budget for 2022-2023 last week and it’s on the May 16 Council agenda. ( City of Piedmont 2022-2023 Budget).

One purpose of the document is to project tax revenue growth for the next 10 years so that City can implement long-term financial planning.  Growth from property tax revenue in Piedmont is pretty stable, increasing 4-5% a year.  Transfer tax revenue, the 1.3% tax assessed on the sale of homes, can be volatile, but contributes more to annual growth than the property tax.   
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As the figure below shows, revenue bounces between $2 and $4M/yr (the exception being the three years of the Great Recession) and shows a steady rate of growth from 2010 to 2020.  Averaged over those 10 years, the transfer tax is $3.4M/yr and the City projects that as a flat growth rate for the next 7 years, leading many city funds into the red. Alternatively, when the transfer tax growth rate is used to project growth (Transfer Tax Projection), transfer tax revenue grows to almost $5M/yr over the same time period.

The City describes 2020-2021 transfer tax revenue ($6.3M) as an outlier, but that remains to be seen.  2021 transfer tax revenue was a record for Piedmont that may well be broken this year. Through the first quarter of the 2021-22 fiscal year, transfer tax revenue was ahead of last year by about 24% and carried over the year that comes to a transfer tax of $7.8M for 2021-2022.  Staff may provide an update on this tax revenue at tonight’s meeting.

So this is good news but will it last?  I don’t know, but it strikes me that averaging over the past 10 years is too conservative an approach that naturally leads the City to seek tax increases to make up for funding it projects it won’t receive when in fact it will.   The City should at least run two financial projections – flat growth and expected growth – to provide City Council with a more balanced report for long-term planning.  Perhaps the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee can request this from staff.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 13 2022

Superintendent Randall Booker announced he will be leaving to take the superintendent position at San Mateo Union High School District effective July 1st.

Below are letters from Randy Booker and the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Board.

Dear PUSD Community,

I am writing to share the news that I accepted the position of Superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District effective July 1, 2022.
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For me, this is bittersweet, as I have been privileged to work in the Piedmont schools for 19 years.  Here, my extraordinary colleagues continually innovate to improve education for one and all.  Together, we have kept a steady focus on enhancing educational opportunities and preparing students for the future.  We have modernized curricula and facilities and developed critical programs for student wellness.  We have risen to the many challenges presented by repeated cuts in State education funding, a sea change in educational technology, and a global pandemic.
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I am deeply proud of our work together.  At the same time, I am thrilled for the professional opportunities in the San Mateo Union District, where I attended elementary, intermediate and high school.  In many ways, my career in education is coming full-circle.
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On a personal level, I want to express my gratitude as a parent for the wonderful education provided to my two sons, Aidan and Christian.  As an educator and administrator, I had countless reasons to take pride in the caliber and compassion of our staff.  As a parent, I had the opportunity to see our staff and our programs from a different vantage point, and my appreciation only deepened.  It has indeed been a privilege for the Booker family to be part of the PUSD family.
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I am working with the Board of Education to ensure a smooth transition and the Board will follow-up with staff about the next steps with regard to District leadership…

With gratitude and best wishes,
Randall Booker, Superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District
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Dear PUSD Community,

With gratitude for almost 20 years of service to our community, the Piedmont Unified School District Board has accepted the resignation of Superintendent Randy Booker. Effective July 1, 2022, he will be the new superintendent for San Mateo Union High School District. Randy grew up in Burlingame, attended Burlingame schools, and will now be a returning alumnus, serving the community that launched him. His last day in our District will be June 30, 2022.

Randy’s optimism and belief in the power of education sustain his work and are exemplified by the following excerpt from the letter he wrote at the start of the 2020-21 academic year:  “It is the educator that inspires all of us to think critically, partner collaboratively, express creatively, and communicate broadly. Students need these skills now more than ever. Teaching is the greatest act of optimism against a backdrop of challenging times across our country.” That recognition of what teaching brings to our community and beyond is what has informed so much of Randy’s approach to leadership, management, and day-to-day operations.

On behalf of previous board members, our educational community, and ourselves, we thank Randy for his hard work, advocacy, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to placing students at the heart of all his decisions. To the board, he has been a reliable and candid advisor, sounding board, and partner. He has served Piedmont for almost two decades with honor and integrity and we are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him and learned from him. We wish Randy all the very best on this next part of his professional adventure.

In terms of next steps, the board will provide additional information on the Superintendent search at our next meeting on May 25.  The board intends to do a nationwide search and will engage the community to gather their valuable insight.  If you have any questions, please contact Board President Cory Smegal at csmegal@piedmont.k12.ca.us, or Brian Killgore at bkillgore@piedmont.k12.ca.us.

Sincerely,

Piedmont Board of Education

Cory Smegal, President

Megan Pillsbury, Vice President

Veronica Anderson Thigpen

Hilary Cooper

Amal Smith

May 12 2022
At the Planning Commission hearing on the Housing Element on May 12, 2022, the consultant from Lisa Wise Consulting stated that Housing and Community Development Department was not accepting SB9 projections to count towards a city’s RHNA housing goals.  A little web searching revealed that Atherton is preparing SB9 projections to include in its Housing Element and there are consulting firms using SB9 potential in housing element calculations.
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SB9 projections are highly uncertain this early after implementation of the law, but if HCD is willing to accept these estimates then Piedmont should generate them.  Yes, such sites are unlikely to be very low and low affordable units, but the point is to claim this capacity so as to remove pressure to develop public sites like the Veterans Building and the 801 Magnolia Avenue Building, sites identified for moderate income units.  The Atherton estimate is based on 10 SB9 units (10 units since  January 2022, so 80 units over 8 years) and it remains to be seen if HCD will accept this projection.
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Inline image

https://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/10036/ITEM-17

From “Proposal for the Town of Ross Housing Element Update” submitted by Dyett and Bhatia, Urban and Regional Planners, January 28, 2022.

“Next, we will evaluate the realistic development capacity for each site with reference to demonstrated development trends, drawing on input from the Housing Forum and the Town’s recent APRs. Documenting the number of ADUs developed in recent years and prior to 2018 will be an important consideration, as HCD guidance allows jurisdictions to project based on past trends with adjustments that account for new laws that significantly increase the potential for ADU development. Capacity calculations will also consider the potential for lot splits permitted under SB9. Based on this evaluation, sufficient sites to satisfy the Sixth Cycle RHNA for all income levels will be included on the inventory.”

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Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member and Resident
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
4 Comments »
May 10 2022

Garrett Keating, former member of the Piedmont City Council, evaluated parts of the Draft Housing Element being considered by the Piedmont Planning Commission at their Special Meeting on May 12, 2022. 

Click below to read Keatings letter to the Commission.

HE_comment_Keating 52022

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
2 Comments »
May 9 2022

Special Planning Commission Meeting – Thursday – May 12, 2022

 WHERE ARE 587 NEW HOUSING UNITS GOING TO GO IN PIEDMONT?
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The City of Piedmont is moving ahead with a new Housing Element.    Few Piedmonters have trudged through the almost 400 page Draft Housing Element containing profound suggested changes to Piedmont zoning.  The proposal suggests ending the Piedmont City Charter requirement of Piedmont voter control over zoning.
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Piedmont’s Planning Commission will hold a hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting on May 12, 2022, at 5:30 pm to consider a recommendation on the Draft Piedmont 6th Cycle Housing Element. On April 8, 2022, the City of Piedmont published the Draft Housing Element for public review and comment. The Draft Housing Element is posted to the homepages of the City of Piedmont website and Piedmontishome.org. Other formats are available upon request to the City. 

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Agenda and participation information >Planning 2022-05-12 Special Meeting

 

2 Comments »
May 9 2022

May 11, 2022 – The School Board Will Ratify the Appointment of Piedmont Middle School Principal: Karyn Shipp –

Shipp was the Assistant Principal of the Piedmont Middle School .

READ the background and selection process  >5112022 PMS Principal_

Karyn Shipp.docx Press Release

 

May 7 2022

I just wanted to clarify that the timeline for preparation of Housing Element updates is set by state law.

It is an iterative process that mandates local jurisdictions prepare draft Housing Elements, open them up for public comment and send them to the state’s Housing and Community Development department (HCD) for its review.  Once HCD has reviewed, it sends back its comments and recommendations to local jurisdictions, so they can incorporate them into revised drafts, to make sure those drafts comply with all the requirements of state law.  The final product, after all these different rounds of review, needs to be done in early to mid 2023.  So while it seems like 2023 is a long time away, the timeline is actually tight. You can find a model timeline in the website for the Association of Bay Area Governments, here:

https://abag.ca.gov/technical-assistance/housing-element-update-timeline

In other words, it is not up to the City Council or the Planning Commission to extend the deadlines.  In fact, delaying the process may lead to increased oversight of the process by the state, as recently happened to the city of Los Angeles. As a result of its failure to comply with Housing Element preparation on time, LA now finds itself into a state-law mandated expedited track to approve all required rezonings within one year.  See:

https://www.planetizen.com/news/2022/02/116337-las-housing-element-considered-among-californias-most-ambitious-rejected-state

The timeline, then, must be respected.  However, that doesn’t mean that the City is trying to push this forward without real opportunities for public comment.  We, as residents of Piedmont, can comment now and when HCD provides its recommendations.  We can also comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which the City should be releasing any time now, and at the time of final approval.

Finally, I think we should remember that the draft Housing Element is NOT amending the Charter, rezoning the Corp Yard, or converting Veterans Hall or the City Council building to low income housing.  It is just proposing draft policies and identifying potential sites where the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which represents the City’s fair share of housing growth, could be accommodated.  It is a high level policy document. Even if these policies were adopted, subsequent rezonings would be needed, as the draft plan acknowledges.  And even if those rezonings occurred, that doesn’t mean that automatically these sites would be developed.  Much more process would be needed, with public input and any required environmental review, and actual  projects would need to be proposed and approved.  So, it is a long process, and there will be many opportunities for public participation as we go along.

Thanks to PCA and to all of you, readers, for the opportunity to engage in this important conversation.  I look forward to more.

Respectfully,

Andrea Ruiz-Esquide, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

 

8 Comments »
May 6 2022

 THE 3RD ANNUAL ART WALK, SATURDAY, MAY 7, 12 PM -5 PM

Painting, ceramics, mixed media, sculpture, photography, jewelry, textile arts, and more – all by artists in the Piedmont community.

Piedmont is filled with amazing artists. The city has always fostered a love and appreciation for what art offers. The Piedmont Art Walk brings together local artists and the Piedmont community to raise awareness, appreciation, and support for the arts in our community.

Purchases support local artists and art programs in our community. Twenty percent of proceeds are donated to the Piedmont Education Fund to support art in our schools.

The Art Walk is working closely with the city to follow Alameda County’s COVID-19 guidelines to keep everyone safe.

Please wear masks. Practice social distancing. No refreshments or receptions.

Map of Artist locations HERE.

Art Walk information click HERE.

For more information, email piedmontartwalk@gmail.com

May 2 2022

 City Proposal for Housing Element Includes: Zoning Changes, Transitional Housing, ADU Heights to 24 feet, City Charter Amendments, Converting City Hall and Veterans Buildings to Low-Income Housing, Coaches Field, Blair Park, etc.

There’s more than just numbers (587 new housing units to be exact) to the Housing Element.  There are several programs and policies in the draft that have not gotten much attention in the city workshops or outreach program, some are noted below:

Require large home remodels include an ADU in the expansion. 

• Establish a transitional home for 6 homeless individuals in a residential neighborhood. Collaborate with a nonprofit affordable housing organization to convert a home or homes to transitional housing for six persons.  This would require changing current residential zone restrictions to allow transitional housing throughout the city. (page 74),

• Create additional local housing opportunities for persons employed within Piedmont in order to reduce commuting and associated greenhouse gas emissions. A particular emphasis should be placed on transportation and on housing for municipal and school district employees, since these are the largest employers in the City. (page 75).

• Allow ADUs to be built to a height of 24 feet if the ADU is deed restricted for 10 years. (page 55).

• Amend the City Charter to eliminate the requirement that the reclassification of zones and/or reduction or enlargement of size or area of zones be subject to a majority vote at a general or special election. (page 57).

• Rezone the Corporation Yard and areas around Coaches Field to accommodate 130 housing units.  Fifty high density units would be built in the Coaches Filed overflow parking lot and 50 units on the slope below the third base line of the field.  If this plan is infeasible, develop 200 high density units in Blair Park. (Appendix B-14)

• Convert Veterans and City Halls into low-income housing (Appendix B-15).

Public comment on the Housing Element started April 6, 2022, and will run for 3 months with Council adoption expected in June 2022. Once approved by Council, the Housing Element needs to be approved by state authorities.  By statute, the deadline for state approval was recently extended to May 2023.  

City Council should take advantage of the state time extension and extend public comment on the Housing Element through November 2022. There are a number of reasons for doing so. 

  •  The plan needs work and a June hearing should still be held to address deficiencies of the current draft so that revisions can be made. 
  • The plan currently does not achieve the equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout Piedmont.
  • The plan for Coaches Field is really half-baked. 
  • There are many new programs and policies called for in the Housing Element that need better vetting with the community. 
  • By extending public comment through November, Piedmont voters can express their opinion on the draft Housing Element by seating a majority of Council (3 seats will be on the ballot).  This timeline offers residents an excellent opportunity to have their voices heard and two of the Councilmembers will likely serve for 8 years, the lifespan of the 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element, ensuring some continuity. 
  • Postponing consideration of the Housing Element until after the November election would engage the entire community in setting Piedmont’s affordable housing future, a legacy everyone could be proud of.  

Public comments on the Housing Element will be sent to the Planning Commission if received by May 5.  Send comments to Piedmontishome@piedmont.ca.gov.  The public can also comment on the Housing Element at the Special Planning Commission meeting, a virtual meeting on Zoom on May 12.  Read the draft Housing Element at:

https://p1cdn4static.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/Departments/Planning%20Division/Housing%20Programs/Housing%20Element/DRAFT-Housing_Element-Public-Review.pdf

Garrett Keating, Former member of the Piedmont City Council and Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Contact information:

510/420-3050 – Planning Staff

510/420-3040 – City Clerk – City Council
Ask for the email address where you can send comments.  Sending an email to the City Council is a good place to send a comment.  Written comments become part of the public record, phone calls do not. 
Go to the City of Piedmont web page for more information.
11 Comments »
May 2 2022

“City Staff is asking Park Commissioners to provide feedback on the Draft 6th Cycle Piedmont Housing Element as community members and key stakeholders. The Park Commission meeting on May 4 gives the public further opportunities to learn about the Housing Element update process and to give their input and feedback.”

Numerous proposals are in the Draft Housing Element many occurring throughout Piedmont.  Density increases, removal of parking requirements, raised height limits of buildings, end to neighbor input on proposals, zoning changes, Charter change, etc.

 All proposals in the 374 page Draft Housing Element document can be read online for public comment.  See link at the end of this article.

6. Proposed Specific Plan: Page B-12, Appendix B, of the Draft Housing Element proposes to prepare a specific plan (Government Code §65450 et. seq) for the area of the Public Works Corporation Yard to accommodate new housing development, incorporate existing amenities, and modernize current city functions. The portion of the site utilized for park Page 2 of 62 and recreational uses, are intended to remain as an amenity for the proposed specific plan area, with the existing vehicle parking reconfigured, as needed.  See map on linked attachment below.

7. Blair Park: The Draft Housing Element identifies Blair Park, which is located on the south side of Moraga Avenue, as a potential alternate site for housing if the proposed specific plan for the Public Works Corporation Yard fails to yield 122 housing units (page B-13). Blair Park is 3.55 acres, with the potential for 210 units if developed at 60 units per acre.

8. Zoning Amendments: In order to meet the 6th Cycle RHNA target with Piedmont’s limited available land, the Draft Housing Element’s Goal 1, New Housing Construction, proposes to increase the allowed residential density for housing affiliated with religious institutions in Zone A (program 1.D, page (37) and increase allowed residential density in Zone B (program 1.F), Zone C (program 1.G), and Zone D (1.H).

READ the Draft Housing Element May 4 presentation to the Park Commission and Agenda, including participation information below:

> 2022-05-04 Park Agenda